70 / 365 – ‘Red Riding Hood’ – 100 mins
Cinema Challenge #31 / 115
Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie’s older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood-red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon’s arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. As panic grips the town, Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast–one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect…and bait.
Red Riding Hood opens up with some stunning panoramic shots gliding through grand mountains, surrounded by thousands of fir trees, pristine lakes and cloud formations and this standard continues throughout as you enter its gorgeously designed village. The story doesn’t really kick off until Valerie’s sister is found dead, when the village sets out to take its revenge, even before werewolf hunter Father Solomon arrives with his private army of heavies, Oldman is magnificent here in wielding his character’s unorthodox brand of justified punishment techniques.
The problem I found is that Catherine Hardwicke’s ‘Red Riding Hood’ is its very much a large dose of style over substance, and at some points in the film it seemed I had forgotten I was watching an adaptation of this classic folk tale, so much so that when the classic line “But Grandmother what big eyes you have…” arrived it evoked cascades of laughter rather than building tension. There is, nonetheless, some entertainment value on show here, but don’t go expecting it to blow you away and on this evidence my awaiting (I keep being warned off it by friends) and first viewing experience of Hardwicke’s ‘Twilight’ franchise will suitably postponed for the foreseeable future.